Singapore's approach prioritises both lives and livelihoods: Minister
Singapore is prioritising "both lives and livelihoods" in adopting a phased reopening after the circuit breaker, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday.
"I know many are disappointed by our cautious approach," he said in a Facebook post.
"I hope you appreciate and understand that we are trying our best to resume activities safely for Singaporeans, while keeping infection rates low."
A controlled reopening will allow new cases to be quickly detected and contained, he said, adding that proactive testing of different segments of the population to detect community cases will continue.
Meanwhile, the Government will continue to provide assistance to businesses that are unable to open, as well as to households and workers, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will announce the details of these support measures in Parliament today.
"If all goes well, then we will move to the next phase around the end of June, and resume more activities then," Mr Wong said.
Singapore is set to move to phase one of its transition out of the circuit breaker period on June 2, when a restricted list of businesses will be allowed to reopen. People still cannot visit their siblings or friends, and dining in at restaurants continues to be prohibited, among other restrictions.
Economists have said this approach may reduce the risk of another wave of infection, but will likely extend the recession into the third quarter and possibly delay recovery, affecting already struggling businesses.
In his post, Mr Wong noted that Singapore has brought down the number of new cases in the community significantly, but has not eradicated Covid-19.
Singapore must expect its case numbers to rise after it resumes activities, he said. Citing the testing of 16,000 pre-school staff recently, which yielded eight confirmed cases, he said there are still hidden cases circulating among the general population.
"This means that not everything can reopen at the same time, and tough decisions have to be made on which ones go first. If we permit physiotherapy, should we also allow spas and massage centres? We would have liked to say 'yes' to all the requests.
"But each time we ease up on something, we introduce many more face-to-face contacts and people movement within the community," he said.
"That, in turn, means higher transmission risks and the likelihood of more infections."